"You were running well; who hindered you from obeying the truth?" Galatians 5:7
While watching one of those animal kingdom documentaries, there was a segment on Hyenas. If someone can show me an uglier four-legged creature, I'll shout them an icy pole.
I wondered why the Lord would ever make such a weird looking beast. God's creatures are all different, and it's amazing to see God's diverse range of beings within each species. But the Hyena??
The interesting thing is, I've never seen Hyenas ashamed of what they are. No whimpering because they're ugly or feel shortchanged, and no perceived deficiencies. The human, on the other hand, is the one who worries about those things.
My Uncle and Aunty had a red dog named Timmy. Timmy would chase anything. But then he got run over by a car and lost a leg. Now, that type of hardship stops some people from reaching their goals. Not Timmy. Once over the operation, Timmy learned to walk on three legs and then run on them. As he had done before, he now chased everything in sight—a tad slower, but with no embarrassment or apologies.
Those two pretentious masters, Ego and self-consciousness, force themselves onto human beings and hold us back. Not long after we are born, they begin dictating their terms to us, trying to rule all of our lives. Much damage is done because we listen and obey. We allow the barbs of other people, the dummies in store windows, TV ads, job ads, and our friends, remould our self-image. That has only happened since the fall of Adam and Eve. Before that, Adam and Eve, like Timmy, felt no shame or awkwardness.
Humiliation and all troubles attached to it came with sin. These abnormal feelings hold us back from succeeding, from loving ourselves as God would have us do. If we can't love ourselves properly, we find it hard to love others the right way.
My first day at Niddrie High School was my most embarrassing day there. Unlike the rest of the new students with their new school clothing, I had to wear my brother John's hand-me-down jumper with the worn elbows and holey collar. Dad and Mum must have been financially challenged at the time. Mum had to darn the elbows, but the worn-out collar got the gold treatment. I don't know what went through mum's head at the time, but she sewed an 'extra' collar from an older jumper onto the outside of the jumper I was to wear, in the hope of disguising its worn-out collar. It didn't! On Day One, I became famous for all the wrong reasons. I was the student who had two collars, one worn out.
It reminded me of the time dad bought me my first pushbike. Not a sporty one like my mates had, with high handlebars looking like a Harley Davidson. No, I was the guy with the purple girls' bike Dad bought for $8 at an auction.
We've all had those awe-inspiring moments where we didn't know how we ever lived through them. Thankfully, age has allowed me to rid myself of most embarrassments. I'm old enough now not to worry too much about what people think about me.
So what made me feel shame and embarrassment? How was I slowly crafted through those years to feel humiliation? To consider myself less than I should have? To be embarrassed by what others thought of me? We laugh at those episodes now, but at the time, we can't believe we're going through them, and, inside, some of it sticks. As Christians, we have a personal duty to free ourselves of ego and self-consciousness by handing it all over to the Lord.
This confusion we feel is the reason public speaking is so difficult. We think we are to be somebody else instead of ourselves. Public opinion drives our behaviour.
So we look at the Hyena, an ugly, graceless beast looking like it has been put together from spare parts of other animals. It behaves differently from most creatures, has a freaky laugh, yet, it has no shame. It's not embarrassed about any perceived failures.
As God made the Hyena, so He created us. Some of us may look more like the laughing Hyena than a graceful leopard or have endured a few severe knocks like Timmy, and we may have even owned an unfashionable purple bike of the opposite gender. Yet, our lack of good looks or perceived deficiencies shouldn't keep us from what God wants us to do or where we're meant to be in Christ or what we should be saying about Him.
"The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?" Psalm 27:1
Today's prayer: Dear Lord, I have been bound by other people's opinions. I can see I am moulded into self-consciousness, afraid sometimes to be the person God made me. Would you please help me break free from those invisible shackles?
Photo By Marcus Lofvenberg